the best of…

curated by David Bates

  1. Noble House – James Clavells
  2. LA Confidential – James Ellroy
  3. Lord Of The Rings – JRR Tolkein
  4. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein
  5. On The Road – Jack Kerovac
  6. Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
  7. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  8. Memoirs of Sherlock – A Conran Doyle
  9. Treasure Island – R.L Stevenson
  10. Discourses – Maciavelli
  11. Desolation Angels – Jack Kerovac
  12. Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  13. Catcher In The Rye – JD Sallinger
  14. Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan
  15. Lonliness Of The Long Distance Runner – Allan Sillitoe
  16. I Claudius – Robert Graves
  17. Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  18. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
  19. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – John Le Carre
  20. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Spy – John Le Carre
  21. Smileys People – John Le Carre
  22. Complete Chandler Collection – Raymond Chandler
  23. The Rumpole Collection – John Mortimer
  24. Rise and Fall Of The British Empire – Lawrence James
  25. Death Of Yugoslavia – Laurie Selber & Allan Little
  26. Funeral In Berlin – Len Deighton


the best of…

curated by David Bates

From Aladdin Sane to Zulu – the best that popular culture has given us over the last half century.

  1. Lawrence of Arabia – 1962- David Lean
  2. Godfather 1 and 2 – 1972 / 74 – Francis Ford Coppola
  3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy – 2001 / 03 – Peter Jackson
  4. Apocalypse Now – 1979 – Francis Ford Coppola
  5. Casablanca – 1942 – Michael Curtiz.
  6. Star Wars – 4 -5 -6 – 1977 / 80 / 83 – George Lucas
  7. Pulp Fiction – 1994 – Quentin Tarantino
  8. Zulu – 1964 – Cy Endfield
  9. Funeral in Berlin – 1966 – Guy Hamilton.
  10. Kelly’s Heroes – 1970 – Brian G. Hutton.
  11. Duellists – 1977 -Ridley Scott.
  12. The Bourne Trilogy – 2002 / 07 – Doug Liman 1/Paul Greengrass 2 and 3
  13. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid – 1969 – George Roy Hill
  14. Manhattan – 1979 – Woody Allen
  15. Man Who Would Be King – 1975 – John Huston
  16. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – 1998 Guy Ritchie
  17. Taxi Driver – 1976 – Martin Scorsese. –
  18. Graduate – 1967 – Mike Nichols.
  19. MASH – 1970 – Robert Altman.
  20. Big Sleep – 1946 – Howard Hawks.
  21. La Battaglia di Algeri – 1966 – Gillo Pontecorvo.
  22. Maltese Falcon – 1941 – John Huston
  23. All The Presidents Men -1976 -Alan J. Pakula.
  24. Annie Hall – 1977 – Woody Allen
  25. North By Northwest – 1959 – Alfred Hitchcock
  26. Italian Job – 1969- Peter Collinson.
  27. Silence of the Lambs – 1991 – Jonathan Demme
  28. Knights Tale – 2001 -Brian Helgeland.
  29. Fifth Element – 1997 – Luc Besson,
  30. Saving Private Ryan – 1998 – Steven Spielberg
  31. Odd Couple – 1968 – Gene Saks
  32. Great Escape – 1963 – John Sturges.
  33. Blow Up – 1966 – Michelangelo Antonioni
  34. All Quiet on the Western Front – 1930 – Lewis Milestone
  35. Easy Rider – 1969 – Dennis Hopper
  36. Ipcress File – 1966 – Sidney J. Furie,
  37. Five Easy Pieces – 1970 – Bob Rafelson
  38. Full Monty – 1997 – Peter Cattaneo.
  39. Shawshank Redemption – 1994 – Frank Darabont
  40. Chinatown – 1974 – Roman Polanski
  41. Cool Hand Luke – 1967 – Stuart Rosenberg
  42. Getaway – 1972 – Sam Peckinpah
  43. The Sting – 1973 – George Roy Hill
  44. Clerks – 1994 – Kevin Smith,
  45. Untouchables – 1987 – Brian De Palma a
  46. Midnight Express – 1978 – Alan Parker.
  47. In the Heat of the Night – 1967 – Norman Jewison.
  48. Dr Zhivago – 1965 – David Lean
  49. African Queen – 1951 – John Huston
  50. Guns of Navarone – 1961 – J. Lee Thompson
  51. Once Upon a Time in America – 1984 – Sergio Leone
  52. Unforgiven – 1992 – Clint Eastwood
  53. Jaws – 1975 – Steven Spielberg
  54. Assault on Precinct 13 – 1976 – John Carpenter
  55. Sling Blade – 1996 – Billy Bob Thornton,
  56. Magnificent Seven – 1960 – John Sturges
  57. Seven Samurai. – 1954 – Akira Kurosawa’s
  58. Dirty Harry – 1971 – Don Siegel,
  59. Gladiator – 2000 – Ridley Scott
  60. Midnight Run – 1988 – Martin Brest
  61. Barefoot in the Park – 1967 – Gene Saks
  62. Wild Bunch – 1969 – Sam Peckinpah
  63. Mississippi Burning – 1988 – Alan Parker
  64. Jeremiah Johnson – 1972 – Sydney Pollack
  65. Good Will Hunting – 1997 – Gus Van Sant
  66. How the West Was Won – 1962 – John Ford Henry Hathaway George Marshall
  67. Deer Hunter – 1978 – Michael Cimino
  68. Inside Man – 2006 – Spike Lee
  69. Get Carter – 1971 – Mike Hodges
  70. Groundhog Day – 1993 – Harold Ramis,
  71. Goodfellas – 1990 – Martin Scorsese.
  72. Terminator 2 – 1991 – James Cameron
  73. Four Weddings and a Funeral – 1994 – Mike Newell.
  74. Where Eagles Dare – 1968 – Brian G. Hutton
  75. Blazing Saddles – 1974 – Mel Brooks
  76. Steelyard Blues – 1973 – Alan Myerson
  77. Night in Casablanca – Archie Mayo.
  78. Eraserhead – 1976 – David Lynch
  79. Dogma – 1999 – Kevin Smith.
  80. Downfall – 2004 – Oliver Hirschbiegel
  81. Master and Commander – 2003 – Peter Weir.
  82. Animal House – 1978 -John Landis.
  83. Start the Revolution without Me – 1970 – Bud Yorkin.
  84. Warriors – 1979 – Walter Hill
  85. Trainspotting – 1996 – Danny Boyle.
  86. Madness of King George – 1994 – Nicholas Hytner.
  87. On the Waterfront – 1954 – Elia Kazan.
  88. Spartacus – 1960- Stanley Kubrick
  89. Hunt for Red October – 1990 – John McTiernan.
  90. School for Scoundrels -1960 – Robert Hamer,
  91. Blue in the Face – 1995 – Paul Auster, Wayne Wang
  92. Room at the Top – 1959 – Jack Clayton.
  93. Leon – 1994 – Luc Besson
  94. Longest Day – 1962 – Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton.
  95. Kind Hearts and Coronets – 1949 – Robert Hamer.
  96. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – 1960 – Karel Reisz.
  97. Philadelphia – 1993 – Jonathan Demme
  98. My Cousin Vinny – 1992 – Jonathan Lynn
  99. To Catch a Thief – 1955 – Alfred Hitchcock
  100. Woodstock – 1970 – Michael Wadleigh
  101. Dirty Dozen
  102. Thomas Crown Affair
  103. Bonnie and Clyde
  104. Heavens Gate
  105. Braveheart
  106. Blue in the Face
  107. Legends of the Fall
  108. Snatch
  109. Philadelphia Story
  110. Up in Smoke
  111. Ghandi
  112. Nikita
  113. Silverado
  114. Scarface
  115. Life at the Top
  116. Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  117. Grapes of Wrath
  118. Die Hard
  119. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  120. 12 Angry Men
  121. Dog Day Afternoon
  122. Schindler’s List
  123. Birds
  124. Psycho
  125. Toy Story 3
  126. Dr Strangelove
  127. Alien
  128. Clockwork Orange
  129. Reservoir Dogs
  130. Raging Bull
  131. Bridge Over The River Kwai
  132. Gold Rush
  133. Fargo
  134. Heat
  135. Hustler
  136. True Grit
  137. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  138. Usual Suspects
  139. In the Name of the Father
  140. Das Boot
  141. Back to the Future
  142. Gran Torino
  143. Slumdog Millionaire
  144. High Noon
  145. Searchers
  146. Duck Soup
  147. How Green was my Valley
  148. From Here to Eternity
  149. Ben Hur
  150. Oliver
  151. French Connection
  152. Rocky
  153. Amadeus
  154. Rain Man
  155. Driving Miss daisy
  156. Shakespeare in Love
  157. Dances with Wolves
  158. Terms of Endearment
  159. Marathon Man
  160. Good Morning Vietnam
  161. Cotton Club
  162. Tootsie
  163. And Justice for All
  164. Being There
  165. On Golden Pond
  166. French Lieutenant’s Woman
  167. ET
  168. Apollo 13
  169. As Good as It Gets


In a business of overnight sensations and an industry that makes heavyweight boxing and Italian politics look like safe sensible careers. David Bates’ decades in the mainline of the music game are evidence of an ear for music that you could sell as surveillance equipment.

Rare determination and a passion untainted by a life lived in the thick of it.

Having engineered the success of artists as, seminal, diverse and successful as Def Leppard, Tears For Fears, The Teardrop Explodes, Robert Plant, Was Not Was, Wet Wet Wet, Oleta Adams, Scott Walker, James and Texas. He has seen more hits than the Internet; Bates is almost a brand in himself. Appropriately he has ventured into his own record label and managment company, borne out of years as a hit- maker.

­­Widely recognised as one of the most important and influential figures in British A & R history, this is the story of a fan that never lost faith in his love of music, a true tale of ‘high fidelity.’

As a teenager, Bates left his native London to become a successful BBC Radio Journalist, DJ and promoter in Sheffield. The success of his local shows encouraged him to return to London and the heart of the music industry. His grasp of the singles market saw him recruited by Richard Branson in an effort to steer the fledgling Virgin Empire away from just album sales and hippy shops. Branson also felt that he was the man to organise an in-store radio station for the Virgin shops. The idea never saw the light of day, but it did get Bates working with Chris Hughes, (Then a colleague at Virgin). The two became firm friends, bonded together by a mutual obsession with music. It was the start of a relationship that abides to this day with Chris as David’s partner at db. “From that point on,” they admit,” our careers are inextricably linked.” As Bates moved into to A & R, Hughes was given the opportunity to move into production.

Bates joined Mercury/Vertigo/Universal as an A & R scout in 1976, he had been recommended to the label by Seymour Stein (Sire USA) at the start of the punk scene. His job of going to see new bands performing on the club and pub circuit meant he saw almost every punk outfit that ever performed including the legendary Sex Pistols performance in the 100 club. Also a band that Bates has described as the best Punk band ever to perform live, The Clash.


His first signing however was Paul Carrack, the singer of Ace and their amazing hit “How

Long”. They recorded an album called “Nightbird” which did not hit the great heights that was hoped for.  However Paul later went onto a hugely successful career having massive hits with Squeeze, Mike and the Mechanics and his own Solo recordings.


When he first went to work at the company, Nigel Grainge who employed him, had signed Graham Parker and the Rumour, Thin Lizzy and a band from San Francisco called Clover.

With Nigel leaving to form his own label, Ensign, Clover had decided to return home to

San Francisco. One of the singers, Huey Lewis, brought in a single recording of his new band “American Express”, Bates was impressed enough to sign them. Although nothing came of this single “American Express”, they returned home and became Huey Lewis and The News and went onto becoming one of Americas biggest bands.


Whilst scouting up in Liverpool Bates came across an interesting pioneering Synth band, Dalek I Love You, a band that contained future members of Siouxsie and the Banshees, OMD and The Teardrop Explodes.



Two years later Bates’ vision came into its own when he persuaded Mercury/Vertigo to fly in the face of fashion and sign a very young set of rocking teenagers he’d found back in his old stomping ground of Sheffield, known as Def Leppard.
Bates’ unlikely lads have gone on to sell over 240,000,000 records and David’s reputation as a man the music business could ill afford to ignore was assured.

Never one to miss an opportunity Bates made use of his record companies facilities to form and record a band called ‘The Blitz Brothers’ starring himself and Chris Hughes. He sent the demo into Mercury/Vertigo by post. When the label decided to sign them he was forced to admit his involvement. Two of the singles have appeared on many US ‘New Wave’ compilations CD’s.

Bates hit the USA for the first time in 1978. He had formed a relationship with Ork Records and was trying to do a deal that would enable him to sign Alex Chilton, The Cramps and Television. He needed to go to New York to close a few details. Assigned £1,000 for the whole trip he performed a minor economic miracle by staying for four months. In that time he saw bands that he both loved and championed including Devo and the B52’s. To their cost Phonogram failed to share in Bates enthusiasm and when the last dollar was finally spent he came home older, wiser and manifestly ahead of his time.

It was in the South Thames Poly, 1979 that Bates instincts told him that he had found another star in Julian Cope and a seminal band called ‘ The Teardrop Explodes’. Under Bates auspices the band recorded two legendary LP’s and he continued to work with Julian Cope as a solo artist on Mercury.

The 1980’s and Bates’ next big score would come via a tape of songs offered to him by a publisher. Unimpressed by the idea of covering the songs, he inquired after the writers instead. They were two teenagers who had given themselves the name of ‘Tears For Fears’. After two failed singles Bates decided to go out on a limb, and recorded an album.

For the third single he switched the A side with the B side “Mad World’. It made No 3, and the LP sold 4 million copies. It was the start of a union that lasted until the early 90’s and has accounted for some 30,000,000 records to date.

In the mid ‘80’s David’s instincts had acquired for Mercury/Vertigo/Universal what can only be described as an embarrassment of riches. “Of the five of us on Mercury/Vertigo/Universal A & R team we had nine of the top ten singles in one week. You suddenly think that you can do anything and that everything is possible”.


Back in the 70’s he had formed Back Door records and re- released ‘I’m the Face’ by the Who’s first incarnation, ‘The High Numbers’. Another hit.

Bates now decided to sift through world music for further inspiration and went onto form a label called The Mobile Suit corporation with David Claridge. As well as his established bands Bates also found one-off hits like Trio’s ‘ Da, Da, Da,’. Following a bet with a colleague Tracey Bennet that he could have a hit with an Asian band, he had a top ten hit with Monsoons ‘Ever So Lonely’. David, it seemed could do no wrong.

Back home his long and intimate relationship with Julian Cope (Bates and Cope had shared a flat together, and in his autobiography Cope devotes a whole paragraph to Bates’ record collection) was under strain. Cope’s conceptual excesses in the face of declining public interest, meant that they no longer saw eye to eye and one of Bates closet and most fruitful partnerships came to an end. “I wanted him to be Jim Morrison, he wanted to be Iggy Pop” says Bates. Although they still remain firm close friends today.

In addition to records that followed a conventional path to the top there were those that succeeded in defiance of logic. Having tried to sign Altered Images some years previously David had maintained a Caledonian connection that was about to come good. He brought Hipsway to the label; they sold 2,000 albums a week, every week for 70 weeks.

By way of consolation Hipsway fractured into two, the other part being Texas. “They gave me a demo tape of three songs, one of which was ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’. It was a no brainer”. North of the border Bates also discovered and signed Wet Wet Wet in 1985.

But when chart sensibilities began to triumph over their instinctive sound, David’s musical instincts told him to step back from cold commercial triumph. The fan still ruled the A & R man. ” He found them and signed them, based on the fact that he thought that they were interesting, they had soul, and Marti Pellow was like a Tim Buckley” says Chris Hughes, ” When they mutated into a pop band he lost interest.”

Back in the United States Bates knew ‘Was Not Was’ as a fan and a friend. When the band fell out with their label, the label owner, David Geffen telephoned David to ask him if he would like to take the contract over. Bates moved in and signed them. “A bizarre outfit in itself,” says David, “an arty jazz band meets Mutant Disco’ who wanted to have hits. Don and Dave were no spring chickens, and the singers, who were actual pimps, were 50. Nowadays Don is recognised as one of the most successful producers in the world, however with Bates input, ‘Spy In The House Of Love’ and ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ became worldwide hits. The unlikeliest of acts now sold millions. On the strength of that David finally got some payback from his ’78’ US adventure and signed Tom Verlaine, Green On Red and Pere Ubu, even securing the latter an appearance on the children’s Roland Rat TV show, ” one of the most perverse and subversive things I ever did.”

Mercury/Vertigo/Universal meanwhile were anxious to retain the services of their one-man hit factory. In return for signing the contract Bates asked for and was given complete control of the dormant Fontana label. Finally it seemed, he could do what he wanted. The experience was to prove a useful prototype for db.

During their 1985 USA TOUR, ‘Tears For Fears’ rang Bates from Kansas at 3am saying that they’d found a singer in a hotel bar. True to form, twelve hours later Bates was in America watching Oleta Adams sing covers in the hotel bar. Impressed but unconvinced he returned to England. Years later when a singer was needed for a part on the ‘Sowing The Seeds’ album, Roland suggested that they fly Oleta to England. Roland called Bates to come down to the Townhouse Studios to hear her sing.

Bates walked into the control room to hear her recording the vocals for Woman in Chains, he immediately offered her a deal.

Her debut album with, ‘Rhythm Of Life’, was one of William Orbit’s first productions. Bates’ radar picked up that the track, ‘Get Here’, was the perfect anthem for the US troops in the Gulf and their loved ones back home. Truth embraced fiction and as a single it settled at No 2 in the charts and went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide. That done Bates signed ‘Lilac Time, James and House Of Love’ to Fontana, ” It was a real mixed bag,” states Bates of his label, “close to what I wanted to do as a label.” I wanted it to be successful and still have interesting things going on.”

Bates also oversaw the public rehabilitation of post-Live Aid Bob Geldof, with two LP’s that re-established him as a performer and songwriter in the wake of his inadvertent deification. By now Bates’ own reputation was approaching that of his artists, with tales of his antics reaching his all time hero Robert Plant. Unannounced, Plant descended on Bates’ office and declared that for the first time in his career he wanted to work with an A & R man.

While touring the Fontana LP ‘Fate Of Nations’, Plant resumed contact with his exiled colleague Jimmy Page. Bates would oversee the fruit of their reunion, the ‘Unledded LP and tour. As well as making true rock ‘n’ roll history, the ‘Unledded’ tour would gross $33,000,00 in its first 40 shows.

The enigmatic legend Scott Walker beat a path to Bates’ door, who in 1995 released the acclaimed ‘Tilt’ LP, his first in over a decade. As the decade rolled on Bates worked with the James front man, Tim Booth and the composer Angelo Badalamenti (of Twin Peaks fame) and Fontana was a haven for bands for bands as diverse and remarkable as The Manchester duo Lamb, and welsh psychedelic collective, Gorki’s Zygotic Mynci. The 90’s also saw Bates return to his old trade as a DJ on London’s alternative station XFM, with a bi weekly show called ‘Dave’s Garage’.

After 22 years at Mercury/Vertigo/Universal including 12 as head of A & R (a record in the UK music industry) Bates decided it was time for a change.

After a period of reassessment he was persuaded that the right course of action was to form his own label, accompanied by his colleague, long time friend and collaborator Chris Hughes, db records was born. With labels like Island, Elektra, Interscope, Asylum and Motown as its paradigms, Bates and db were looking for artists that can help fulfil their vision.

In the midst of the charts being dominated by pop music, girl groups and boy bands, Bates decided to sign an Acoustic singer/songwriter, Tom McRae. The album was released in 2000 to huge critical acclaim. Nominated for Best Newcomer –BRIT Award, Best New Artist MOJO magazine, Best New Artist Q Magazine and also nominated for the Mercury prize.

The second act to sign to db hailed from Brighton and were still at school, Tom was 15 and Alex just 17. They were the Electric Soft Parade.

The album was released in 2001 to huge critical acclaim. Again a db act was Nominated for Best Newcomer –BRIT Award, Best New Artist MOJO magazine, Best New Artist Q Magazine and also nominated for the Mercury prize.

RCA records and db records became partners, although Bates had reservations about getting involved with a major label. He knew and trusted the Chairman Richard Griffiths, they had worked together before. The label went on to sign Doudou Cissoko, Psychid and the High n Lonesome.  Things turned however when Griffiths had a falling out with owners of the company and left. He went on to form Modest Management with Harry McGee and they were responsible for One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.

The arrangement was not quite the same and so at the end of the term BMG and db parted company.

 2005 Bates decided to relocate to Bath.

Then out of the blue the new Chairman of Sony/RCA called and asked Bates to become an A&R consultant.

He was invited to be involved with an array of artists from The Cooper Temple Clause right through to Claire Teal.

In 2008, Bates was invited to lunch at Real World to meet with another of his heroes Peter Gabriel.

Over several lunches they discussed possibilities for Peter’s next album.

Peter came up with the idea of Scratch My Back,  as a song exchange where each artist would cover one of Gabriel’s songs in return for his covering one of theirs; the other artists’ renditions of Gabriel’s songs would appear on a later album entitled I’ll Scratch Yours.

“It was a fabulous time, I would meet with Peter of an afternoon, we would discuss songs and he would sit behind a piano singing them to me to try them out. It was my own personal concert with Peter!”

It was released in February 2010, to acclaim and charting all over the world.

Peter subsequently toured the world using an orchestra in each city, playing both this album and songs from his illustrious past.

Bates then worked again as an A&R consultant this time for Sony Music, from 2010 up until 2012. This included visiting Universities around the UK to give lectures on A&R and the music industry. An ideal opportunity to meet and interview bright enthusiastic students with the potential of joining the Music Industry, particularly for Sony.

Once again teaming up with Lloyd Cole for his much acclaimed “Standards” album released in 2013.

He now works on as a Playlist Curator. Bringing all the skills and talent learnt and acquired during his career to creating the right running orders for Artists Albums as well as creating Playlists for Radio, Events and Music services. He has also worked on Film and TV projects.

Yet never ceasing to look for the next great Artist……




Albums Discography


Singles Discography


Live Gigs

These are not all and every gig that db attended , just those with ticket stubs that db kept.
Further gigs will be added in the future.

The artwork for db’s finestkind “The Years” was provided by Paul Ridout.
Paul also designed the banners and quite a few of the playlist covers. He also provided encouragement

Much of the design for the other playlist covers was provided by Christopher Merrick Hughes… also the main encouragement for starting this
Record Producer | Chris Merrick Hughes Producer Artist Musician

Jamie Colonna was the inspired gent who designed the flyers and statements and also encouragement


The website is designed by Created in Bath…..

db’s finestkind is trademarked and is copyrighted

db records